Country Music People March 2019 - Page 53

accompanying book in which he says, “He had this technique which involved sliding syllables together that really blew me away” and indeed, all these years later it’s all too easy to overlook Lefty’s stylings and delivery which we take for granted now. This set naturally includes all the hits, If You’ve Got The Money, Always Late, Long Black Veil, I Love You A Thousand Ways, and thirty-five more, but if it was just hits you’re after there are far cheaper two-disc options out there. The German label and purveyors of some of the finest examples of complete discographies from many a legendary name have excelled themselves this time. This set might be the weightiest they have ever produced. It could double- up as a door stop or a step to help you in and out of your caravan if necessary. The weight primarily comes not from the 20, yes 20 CDs included here, but from the 264-page hardcover book. This set is as serious as its getting on for five kilos weight implies and it’s away from the well-known material that it throws up the greatest delights for me. Never is this more evident than when it comes to Lefty’s later recordings. The discs featuring his work from 1967-70 and 1971-74 include some of the best country music ever recorded in my opinion. This was around the time that writers like A.L. Owens, Dallas Frazier, Harlan Howard, and Whitey Shafer are making names for themselves and Lefty singing their songs is perfection just about every time. Lefty’s friendship with Shafer is evident with the sheer amount of his songs he was recording in addition to their co-write on possibly the greatest country song ever, I Never Go Around Mirrors. They collaborated on the nearly as wonderful I Can’t Get Over You To Save My Life and She Found The Key but you tend not hear every new singer comin’ around the pike singing those songs... but you should. The work that has gone into this set is impressive. Bear Family bill it as “the truly definitive set” and they’re not kidding. Every 45, 78, and LP track from Lefty’s entire career is here along with every unissued session recording. There are newly-discovered demos and non-session recordings and there are 8 CDs of Lefty’s brother David reading his book “I Love You A Thousand Ways”. So, it’s big, it’s 20 CDs, it’s Lefty Frizzell, but there are downsides. It’s expensive. Will you ever look at the book very much, no matter how much it makes you feel like one of the Frizzell family with all those ‘unseen photos’ the Frizzell family have shared, and will you ever want to listen to the audiobook more than once? If you already own Life Is Like Poetry, the previous Lefty boxed set, then you most likely don’t need this, especially as many of the individual CDs are exactly the same, and getting on for two hundred quid is a lot of money. Bear Family do offer 20% discount from their website if you send a picture of yourself with either the Life Is Like Poetry boxed set or the previous 14- LP set, His Life, His Music on which it was based. The thing is, I actually found myself wishing I had the LP set and a digital download of it all. It’s probably rather more Lefty than you will ever need but let’s not underestimate his importance in the world of country music. Even if you might be less enamoured when you read about what got Lefty into the jail cell where he famously wrote I Love You, I’ll Prove It A Thousand Ways. They were different times and all that, but if a reporter today uncovered a story of “statutory rape,” (i.e. consensual sex with a minor) it would stop a career dead in its tracks. This set is a thing of beauty, but that beauty comes at a hefty price. Five stars for the musical content every day of the week, but value for money has to come into the equation here. If you feel flushed go treat yourself. Duncan Warwick MARCH 2019 - cmp 53